Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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Tech Talk

Put down your phone and read this


How long are you willing to wait for a website to load? Five seconds? Ten seconds? Good God, don’t let it happen to me… 15 seconds! Over the last two decades, researchers have found the duration of the American attention span to be dwindling and dwindling. It’s gotten so bad that in 2014 our interests can only be held for a shameful short eight seconds, and tech is one of the leading focus killers.

What’s the worse part of any YouTube video? The five seconds we’re forced to watch advertisements before a cat video rolls. What is the maximum amount of characters in a tweet? One-hundred-forty characters, or roughly 30 words, which happens to be just about eight seconds. How long are Vine videos? Six seconds max. This seems really short until you sit through a 15-second Instagram video that never seems to end.

The unwritten rule that brevity equals relevancy has a stranglehold on tech. But in all fairness, marketers, entertainers and even politicians all know the power of the quick word. Whether it’s biblical proverbs, stand-up comedy, or the 272-word Gettysburg Address (which is shorter than this column), history has proven time and again that we are all waiting for everyone else to get to the point.

So why is tech currently the worst offender? Because we are all strapped with an attention killer — our smartphone, or the remote control for our lives. From meetings that never end to Sunday sermons that go nowhere, smartphones allow us to escape life at a moment’s notice. Smartphone addiction — while new — is a very real thing and has led to everything from distracted driving to mid-coital tweeting. Smartphone addiction is so prevalent and bad that a recent study from Baylor University found that college-age women spend 10 hours each day looking at their phone, with men clocking at eight hours.

How low can attention spans go? I have no clue, but if you spend 10 hours a day clutching your smartphone, you might be addicted. Lucky for you, there’s an app for that — Dumbphone. And, no, I’m not kidding. CV

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.

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